Institutional Scholarship

The Institute for Propaganda Analysis: Protecting Democracy in Pre-World War II America

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dc.contributor.advisor Gerstein, Linda
dc.contributor.advisor Hayton, Darin
dc.contributor.author Reisch, Zachary
dc.date.accessioned 2014-07-24T15:29:54Z
dc.date.available 2014-07-24T15:29:54Z
dc.date.issued 2014
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10066/14463
dc.description.abstract What is democracy? This is the question that liberals in late 1930s America tried to answer as they discussed the many issues facing their nation. The rise of communism and Nazism, as well as military conflict in Europe and Asia, forced Americans to consider what was important to them and what was worth fighting for. Liberals, whose goal was to promote democratic principles, framed their debates around the term democracy. They evaluated the claims to democracy that many groups in America made in the second half of the 1930s. Nazis, communists, and anti-communists all characterized their ideologies as democratic, as did British agents trying to coax America into helping England in its attempt to contain Nazi Germany. Additionally, President Franklin Roosevelt's administration urged Americans to support a Western Hemisphere united against Nazism; the Hemisphere encompassed the United States and the Central and South American "republics," many of which were clearly dictatorships. In order to advocate their particular visions of democracy, all of these groups used what Americans in the 1930s called "propaganda." The term propaganda had developed a negative connotation in America after World War I. Following the war, Americans had learned that England and its allies had manufactured much of the seemingly objective information about the conflict in order to foster support in America. Propaganda, therefore, became associated with persuasion; it was seen as the opposite of promoting the truth. For many liberals, evaluating the (un)democratic natures of the diverse groups promoting democratic principles involved looking behind their propagandistic rhetoric. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) was one such liberal organization. Founded in 1937 by a group of liberal academics, the IPA aimed to evaluate the propagandas that inundated Americans in order to determine which ones truly promoted democratic values. For the IPA, Nazism, communism, the conservative anti-communism movement, England's foreign policy, and Latin American dictatorships were all undemocratic. By labeling these groups as such, the IPA promoted a democratic society based on freedom of speech and citizen participation in government, and also attempted to accomplish concrete goals such as preventing the rise of Nazism in America. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of History. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
dc.subject.lcsh Institute for Propaganda Analysis
dc.subject.lcsh Propaganda -- United States -- History -- 20th century
dc.subject.lcsh Democracy -- United States -- History -- 20th century
dc.title The Institute for Propaganda Analysis: Protecting Democracy in Pre-World War II America en_US
dc.type Thesis (B.A.) en_US
dc.rights.access Haverford users only


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